Tag: 2011 Winter Classic

Winter Classic Hockey

2011 Winter Classic most watched regular season game in 36 years


Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin wasn’t kidding when he said how exciting it was to play in front of millions of hockey fans.

Over the last four years, the Winter Classic proved that it could work in baseball parks such as Wrigley Field and football stadiums such as Heinz Field. Due to some rain-based intervention, Saturday’s event was delayed from the afternoon to prime time. Instead of seeing ratings that plummeted because of this unplanned alteration, Saturday’s Washington Capitals-Pittsburgh Penguins game instead proved that outdoor hockey can be a ratings success in that coveted time slot.

The 2011 Winter Classic had 4.5 million viewers, the highest number to date for the annual event. The number beat out the 4.4 million viewers the 2009 Winter Classic from Chicago’s Wrigley Field had and was up 22% from the 2010 Winter Classic in Boston. The game was also the most watched regular season game in 36 years.

Maybe it was the high-end star power that comes with featuring Sidney Crosby and Ovechkin. Perhaps it had a lot to do with the amazing buildup created by various promotions including HBO’s outstanding 24/7 series. Then again, it could also have been the natural progression of the league’s progress combined with the improving Winter Classic brand.

Whatever the case may be, the ratings were fantastic for the Winter Classic.

As for how the game did around the country, obviously Pittsburgh and Washington tuned in in big ways, but other cities across the country also tuned in in big ways. Here’s the top 10 cities in ratings and shares for this year’s event in Pittsburgh.

1. Pittsburgh, 32.0/46

2. Washington D.C., 7.6/13

3. Baltimore, 6.6/11

4. Buffalo, 5.3/8

T5. St. Louis, 4.3/7

T5. Denver, 4.3/7

7. Boston, 4.0/7

8. Richmond, 3.8/6

9. Philadelphia, 3.5/6

10. Columbus, 3.4/6

Getting such a huge rating out of Pittsburgh is incredible. While it dwarfs the numbers seen out of Washington, D.C. keep in mind that Maryland and Virginia are also Caps country which is why you see Baltimore third and Richmond eighth on this list. All around, the success of this year’s event is tremendous. With over 68,000 fans at Heinz Field and the TV ratings and viewership being at new highs it’s clear that the NHL has a winning product on its hands.

2011 Winter Classic Star Cams: Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin

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A lot of people get offended or irritated by the attention heaped upon Washington Capitals sniper Alex Ovechkin and Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby. It’s understandable in a way because the NHL is jam-packed with fantastic players, so focusing on two players seems unfair.

That being said, if you had to choose two players to spotlight, how could you not tab Ovechkin and Crosby? They consistently find themselves in highlight reels and league leader lists, not to mention that – Capitals playoff disappointments notwithstanding – they both play for very successful teams.

Maybe one is a little unkempt and the other might be a little boring, but when you put them together you get a little bit of everything.

So complain and criticize if you might, but it only makes sense to fix a camera on both of them during most games, especially an event like the 2011 Winter Classic. If you really cannot stand them that much then we understand. Click on another story. Yet if you want to monitor how their games really went, check out the individual star cam videos for both stars.

First, we’ll star with Ovechkin because his team won.

OK, now let’s take a look at Crosby’s clips.

Video: 2011 Winter Classic highlights

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Sure, the weather produced rain (and the requisite delay) instead of Buffalo’s snow globe effect. And maybe there wasn’t a storybook moment like Sidney Crosby’s shootout game winner in that same 2008 Winter Classic.

But those minor quibbles aside, the 2011 Winter Classic was a fantastic event. The Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1, but the real winners were hockey fans (but hardcore and new), who were treated to a hard-fought game between two teams who truly dislike one another. The game featured a lot of rugged play and a couple ugly goals, but there were also some brilliant moments, even without a goal (that counted) by Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin.

Check out the game’s highlights in the video below.